Federal Health Agency Awards $3.2 Million Grant To Study Impact Of Marijuana On Cancer Immunotherapy Treatment

October 26, 2023 · marijuanamoment.net

The federal health agency is awarding researchers $3.2 million to study the effects of using cannabis while receiving immunotherapy for cancer treatment, as well as whether access to marijuana helps reduce health disparities.

The University of Buffalo (UB) announced that one of its psychiatrists has received the research grant funding from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute, which will go toward a year-long study to assess how the common cancer treatment is affected by patients’ cannabis use.

UB will be partnering Thomas Jefferson University and Oregon Health and Science University to carry out the study at three different sites, each recruiting 450 cancer patients who are being treated with immunotherapy, which carriers fewer side effects than chemotherapy and is meant to boost the body’s natural defenses protecting healthy cells.

According to UB, about 40 percent of cancer patients report using marijuana as a treatment option to reduce pain, improve mood and help them sleep. Yet there are “virtually no long-term studies evaluating its potential benefits and harms for persons treated with immunotherapy for cancer, despite cancer and its treatments being qualifying conditions in most of the 37 states and Washington, D.C., that have legalized adult use or medical cannabis,” principal investigator Rebecca Ashare said in a press release on Tuesday.

While the anti-inflammatory properties of certain cannabinoids is typically a “good thing,” particularly when it comes to reducing pain, that effect can also suppress immune function.

“There are concerns that cannabis might reduce the efficacy of immunotherapy,” Ashare said. “The demand for evidence is clear and this project represents an important first step in that process as both immunotherapy and cannabis use are becoming more widespread therapeutic options in oncology, accepted by many patients and physicians.”

For the observational study, half of the participants will be cannabis consumers who will use their own products and the other half will be non-users. Researchers will examine “medical records, patient outcomes and blood samples at six different times over a one-year period.”

The NCI grant will also be used to study “the role of neighborhood disadvantage on outcomes related to cannabis use and immunotherapy.”

“We want to see if access to cannabis reduces health disparities,” Ashare said. “We have a strong multidisciplinary team with expertise in cancer symptom management, medical cannabis, health equity, oncology, immunology, and substance misuse. Overall this research will have a sustained impact on the science of cancer symptom management and ultimately improve patient care and safety.”

An NCI official spoke about the agency’s interest in promoting research into the relationship between cannabis and cancer treatment at a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) meeting last month. He said that while most oncologists have spoken with patients about marijuana, relatively few report being sufficiently knowledgable about the topic.

NCI also outlined areas of cannabis research into the issue that the agency is interested in funding in a notice published last year.

Meanwhile, a recent study found that consistent cannabis use is associated with improved cognition and reduced pain among cancer patients and people receiving chemotherapy.

The American Medical Association (AMA) also published research late last year that connected state cannabis legalization with reduced opioid prescribing for certain cancer patients. (Full Story)

In category:Research
Next Post

Federal Agencies Fund New Marijuana Research Center To Overcome Study Barriers Imposed By Prohibition

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is calling for the creation of a centralized marijuana research center that’s designed to help scientists overcome barriers to studying cannabis under federal prohibition. In a notice of funding opportunity posted on Thursday, NIH…
Previous Post

Researchers Identify ‘Previously Undiscovered Cannabis Compounds’ That Give Marijuana Strains Their Unique Aromas

While many marijuana enthusiasts believe that components called terpenes are responsible for strains’ distinctive smells, a new study published by the American Chemical Society has identified “previously undiscovered cannabis compounds” that challenge that conventional wisdom of what really gives each…
Random Post

From Legalize Weed to Shut It Down? - Connecticut Lawsuit Aims to Shut Down All Legal Cannabis Programs in the State

A legal case has been initiated against the Stamford Zoning Board, aiming to exert control over Connecticut's emerging cannabis sector. In addition to addressing city-specific regulations, the lawsuit, which portrays the state's Social Equity Council as a questionable initiative, holds the potential…
Random Post

Washington Proposals Would Legalize Home Grows & End Pre-Employment Drug Tests for Cannabis

Lawmakers in Washington are considering bills to reform aspects of the state’s cannabis policies, including allowing home cultivation and ending the use of testing for cannabis as a condition for getting hired.   The home grow bill would allow adults to…
Random Post

The Green Entitled Wave: Will Cannabis Be Exploited Around Epstein Island?

The Caribbean is famous for its beautiful beaches, but the US Virgin Islands have faced challenges from past scandals and natural disasters. Now, they’re considering cannabis legalization to boost their economy and support local communities, including the Rastafari, who view…
Random Post

An Ounce of Prevention Can Stop Financial Distress

It’s a challenging time for cannabis businesses around the country. But for those of us who have been involved since the beginning, what else is new? Today, legal markets exist at some level in the majority of American states. However,…